About a month ago, New Hampshire State Representative Mark Warden pushed forward the legitimacy of Bitcoin in two very significant ways. First, he was the first major political candidate to accept Bitcoin for political donations. This was a significant milestone, both because the regulations around political donations make utilizing Bitcoin a much greater challenge than for any other kind of charity, and because it means that Bitcoin has support “within the government.” Eric Olson, a Libertarian candidate in North Dakota, had been accepting Bitcoin for months before, but the Libertarian party, like most other third parties in the United States, is much too small to attract significant media attention. Secondly, when New Hampshire’s Deputy Secretary of State approved the arrangement, the event marked the first official ruling of any kind in favor of Bitcoin’s legality.
But in the three weeks since, signs are showing that Mark Warden was not simply the first to reach a milestone; he may well have been the first to break a dam. Less than a month after Warden’s move and weeks after the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s approval, Jeremy Hansen, a professor of computer science and independent candidate, has just announcedthat he also intends to accept Bitcoin donations. Hansen does not have a political platform of his own – he strongly supports direct democracy, and intends to simply serve as a conduit for direct democracy if he gets elected. Barring constitutional objections, on each bill he would simply vote the way the people want him to. Although, like Olson, Hansen is not a mainstream candidate, unlike Olson he has also managed to get formal legal approval from both the Vermont Attorney General and the Vermont Secretary of State.
But Josh Jones, creator of Bitcoin Builder and developer of the custom system which Hansen uses to accept donations, intends for Bitcoin to go even further. He believes that “Bitcoin is perfect for campaign contributions because of its ability to do micro-transactions at low-to-no cost”, and to that end, has offered Hansen’s system to any candidate wishing to accept Bitcoin. “The system up now at http://www.bitcoinbuilder.com/donate/,” he writes, “allows political campaigns to create donation forms in one click that comply with the legal requirements Jeremy and I have identified.” And indeed it does. Going to the link, visitors are immediately presented with a form that allows them to create a donation campaign, whether for political purposes or otherwise, set or modify some basic settings like what personal information to require (the default is name, email, phone and address), click “Start Donation Campaign,” and have a link to a form which anyone can use to donate right away. If other candidates are interested, they now have the tools to start accepting Bitcoin far more quickly – Jones’s form is far easier to set up than even BitPay. The work of determining what kind of donation system works best has already been done by Warden and Jones, and getting approval for each additional state will only be easier with the weight of two established precedents in Bitcoin’s favor.